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Forgettable Pitt performance will be quickly forgotten

| Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2007

It meant just about everything to Louisville, which came to Petersen Events Center desperately seeking a signature win and running out of chances to establish itself as an NCAA Tournament-worthy team.

For Pitt, it meant the team would be one day closer to March.

The Panthers are still that after committing an avalanche of turnovers and absorbing a 66-53 spanking at the hands of Rick Pitino's Cardinals on Monday.

Pitt's performance was abysmal.

Still, the fallout will be minimal.

The coaching staff will have a little more hard evidence to employ as a teaching tool, particularly as it relates to handling full-court pressure and attacking a zone.

Practices will likely become a little more spirited than they might have been, especially considering the Panthers had been less than themselves in getting out-rebounded by eight but still beating Providence, 74-68, on Saturday.

And the players' pride has clearly been challenged now that a second conference game has been surrendered at home.

All of that will probably mean bad news for Washington on Saturday and little else.

And it'll all be forgotten once the Panthers finally start dancing.

They've become a victim of their regular-season success, to an extent, and of their inability to translate that into a run of more than two consecutive victories in any of the past five NCAA Tournaments.

Once upon a time, the Panthers in the Sweet 16 was something to be celebrated.

Now, it's frustrating when Pitt only gets that far. Anything less is unacceptable.

And there's nothing this year's Panthers can do about that until March.

A Big East regular-season championship, something that's a little less certain today that it was before Louisville arrived and dominated inside, isn't going to scratch that itch.

Neither is Jamie Dixon's climb toward the fastest 100 coaching victories in Pitt history.

"It never seems to be enough," Dixon said.

Nor will it be until Pitt makes it into the Elite Eight.

The Panthers can get there because they usually can be counted upon to protect the ball, rebound and defend, and because of their experience and depth.

They may get there yet, even if Dixon didn't recognize the team that was doing none of that in the first half yesterday.

Louisville might get to the NCAA Tournament because of a timely win against what had been the nation's No. 7 team.

"Christmas came early," Pitino said.

For Pitt, March will arrive as scheduled.

It's been destined to all along.

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